By Conor Ploeger

Indie rock’s Real Estate has developed a cult following since its inception in 2009. That said, fans expressed concern as to whether or not the quintet would be able to grow past the sound they developed on their second record.

After releasing its self-titled debut, the group was instantly categorized as another lo-fi band that was signed for no reason other than this style of music was popular at the time. However, the catchy songs and lyrics about yearning for summer set them apart from the masses of similar artists. Now the band is following a beloved sophomore album with its most accomplished record to date, “Atlas.”

In a genre that is moving farther away from guitar riffs, Real Estate finds pride in using the instrument. Throughout the record, songs like “Crime” and “Had to Hear” highlight Matt Mondanile’s subtle, but accomplished guitar playing. Despite his technical abilities, Mondanile is able to make the complicated guitar playing sound easy and relaxed while adding melodies that get stuck in your head.

The powerful guitar melodies serve as an able complement to front man Martin Courtney’s thoughtful lyrics. His simple lyrics, such as: “I don’t want to die lonely and uptight/Stay with me/All will be revealed” manage to drive the point home about his fears without too much effort.

Whereas Real Estate songs used to be nostalgic desires for childhood summers in the suburbs, their growing confidence has allowed for them to touch on new subjects. Real Estate’s members’ growing ability as musicians and songwriters help to make the listeners feel both relaxed and inspired.

Conor Ploeger can be reached at thersko@



By Thomas Snider

When gangsta rapper Freddie Gibbs sat down with Red Bull Fireside Chat and discussed the prospect of working with Madlib, he chuckled and said, “I’m no MF Doom, I’ve never done mushrooms.”

Six months later we have “Piñata,” a full-length compilation of Madlib’s hard-hitting beats and Freddie Gibbs’ true-to-the-street rhymes.

The project depicts a matured Gibbs rapping exclusively about the streets, yet he never glamorizes it, turning instead to lyrics that touch on harsh reality of drug use, violence and the exploitation of woman that all offer a window into the lifestyle he once led.

With a collection of sampled 70s R&B, truck-banging bass, and diverse synths, the production of Madlib creates an eclectic collage of beats that fit remarkably well with Gibbs’ verses.

“Piñata” is constructed as if it were straight out of an old mobster movie. Elements of old school hip-hop are abound, such as on the opening track, “Supplier,” which contains an immersive police chase interlude and back and forth drug dealer dialogue.

Guests such as Raekwon and Scarface bring original gangsters to “Piñata” and neither misses a beat with verses that meld right into their particular joints. Then new-school artists like Ab-Soul, Danny Brown and Earl Sweatshirt drop in on tracks such as “Robes,” and their verses are some of the most consistent with the album’s theme.

Gibbs and Madlib merged two styles of hip-hop, gangsta rap and sample based experimental beats into a well-mixed LP that showcases the talent of long-standing artists that have defined their craft. “Pinata” is a must pickup for any hip-hop head or just any fan of old school rap with a twist.

Thomas Snider can be reached at thersko@


By Nino Pinneri

The shoegaze outfit Nothing from Philadelphia has members with deep roots in early hardcore punk and ties to hardcore legends such as Converge frontman Jacob Bannon and the record label Deathwish Inc. Despite the intensity that this may imply, Nothing is known for producing remarkably listenable and enjoyable slices of music.

The band’s latest record, “Guilty of Everything,” manages to combine the reverb and distortion-heavy influences of shoegaze and noise rock with ethereal dream-pop to produce a truly compelling piece.

Nothing manages to gracefully balance letting the energy from their hardcore roots shine through, while effortlessly transitioning into soft melodies.

The record is a testimony of sorts for Nothing frontman Dominic Palermo. Before the band’s creation, Palermo was involved in a stabbing and was convicted of aggravated assault and attempted murder. When released, Palermo made changes to make his life more positive, leading to the creation of Nothing.

Palermo’s transformation from violence and hardcore music to more laid-back musical styles translates in “Guilty of Everything” wonderfully.

The instrumentation feels textured, having many layers of multiple rhythmic guitars creating a wall of noise effect. Vocals are drowned out, calming, and backed up by fantastic melodies that compliment each other.

A great example of this is the track “Endlessly.” The song features a number of excellent guitar riffs backed by a multitude of distorted drum patterns.

“Guilty of Everything” is full of such moments. With a sophomore album due for release by the end of the year, as long as Nothing further expands on its refreshingly original sound, the band will prove to be an essential part of the modern shoegaze genre.

Nino Pinerri can be reached at thersko@